August 7, 2014 / 8:07 AM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 2-Randgold production stutters at fledgling Congo mine

* 2nd-qtr output at Kibali mine down 19 pct vs first qtr

* On track to meet full-year target as new equipment commissioned

* CEO sees full-year output in middle of 1.13 mln-1.2 mln-ounce target

* Shares fall as much as 2 pct (Adds CEO comment, updates share price)

By Karen Rebelo

Aug 7 (Reuters) - A production hiccup at Randgold Resources Ltd’s fledgling mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo overshadowed a jump in quarterly profit, sending the miner’s shares down 2 percent.

Randgold, forced to process harder ore pending the installation of new equipment, produced less gold at the Kibali mine in the second quarter than in the preceding three months. It said it remained on track to meet its full-year target.

“Any production dip is never taken well, so we expect the market to react negatively,” analysts at GMP Securities wrote.

Shares of the blue-chip miner were down 1.9 percent at 5055 pence at 1052 GMT, ranking among the top losers on the FTSE-100 .

Kibali is Randgold’s biggest ever project in terms of investment and represents the Democratic Republic of Congo’s return to the world stage as a producer and exporter of gold.

The $2.5 billion joint venture with AngloGold Ashanti Ltd and state miner Sokimo poured its first gold in September and could eventually rank among the world’s biggest gold mines.

Production at the mine fell to 91,137 ounces in the quarter ended June 30 from 112,549 ounces in the preceding three months, a drop attributed by the company to lower recoveries from “tricky transitional ore”.

“We started the mine on the back of oxide material and, as you mine the open pit and it increases with depth, you move from soft-weathered ore to hard sulphide ore,” Randgold Chief Executive Mark Bristow told Reuters.

“With that ... the metallurgical processing becomes more complex.”

Randgold said Kibali was on track to meet its full-year target of 550,000 ounces. A sulphide circuit to treat the harder, sulphide ore had been commissioned by the end of June.

Randgold operates the mine and, like AngloGold Ashanti, has a 45 percent stake. Its attributable gold production from Kibali for the second quarter was 41,012 ounces.

Randgold, which also mines gold in Mali and Ivory Coast, reported a 41 percent year-on-year increase in production for the second quarter, driven by output from its flagship Loulo-Gounkoto operations in Mali.

Total second-quarter attributable gold output was 277,283 ounces, of which Loulo-Gounkoto supplied 174,052 ounces.

Bristow said he expected Randgold’s total full-year production to fall in the middle of its previously announced guidance of 1.13 million to 1.2 million ounces of gold.

Profit from mining jumped 54 percent year-on-year to $162.3 million for the three months ended June 30, driven largely by the start of mining at Kibali and higher production in Mali.

The average gold price received fell 5 percent to $1,290 per ounce, while total cash cost per ounce fell 12 percent to $701. (Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Robin Paxton)

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